Waxing is considered by many the most attractive and practicable finish for hardwood floors. It preserves the natural color of the wood, brings out the beauty of the grain, and is easily revived and renewed. Given the proper care, waxed floors improve with age, even under hard usage. In some of the European palaces, for instance, floors that have been polished for centuries with nothing but wax are still bright and beautiful in color though now worn thin by use. The chief objections to waxed floors are the amount of labor required to polish them and the fact that water turns the finish white. These water spots, however, may be quickly removed by rubbing on a little wax with a woolen cloth or a weighted brush.
Wax of various kinds dissolved in turpentine is the basis of all floor waxes. Beeswax, carnauba, ceresin, or paraffin, or a combination of these may be used, and gasoline, ammonia, or some other volatile solvent is often used in addition to the turpentine.
Wax may be applied to a floor that has been stained, painted, or varnished, or directly on the bare wood. Hardwood floors are generally paste filled and in many cases surfaced with shellac varnish before being waxed. The paste fills up the pores, and the shellac varnish makes a hard foundation for the wax and prevents grease from penetrating and staining the wood. A waxed floor will be less slippery, however, if the shellac is omitted or if only a very thin coat is applied and well sandpapered.
Success in waxing floors lies in applying the wax in thin coats and rubbing it a great deal. One pound will coat about 250 square feet of floor. After the preliminary coats of filler or varnish are thoroughly dry, the wax should be rubbed on with a woolen cloth, a piece of old carpet, or a brush, and allowed to harden overnight. The next morning the floor should be polished lengthwise of the grain with a weighted brush or a heavy block wrapped in woolen cloth, burlap, or old carpet. Then one or perhaps two more coats of wax should be applied and rubbed down in the same way as the first.